Tag: Darlene Marshall

Guest Review: The Pirate’s Secret Baby by Darlene Marshall

Posted June 6, 2014 by Ames in Reviews | 0 Comments

psbdmAmes’ review of The Pirate’s Secret Baby by Darlene Marshall.

The captain of the Prodigal Son has a deserved reputation as the deadliest (and best dressed) pirate in the Caribbean, but Robert St. Armand’s totally at sea when it comes to “Marauding Mattie”, the daughter he never knew he had. How in the world can he deal with the littlest pirate, one who prefers knife-throwing to arithmetic lessons, and who’d rather be keelhauled than eat her beets? He needs help!

Lydia Burke is living a safe life, separated from England by an entire ocean. It’s exactly what she needs and she’s not going to risk her boring, but secure, position as a governess to consort with pirates, especially one who’s too pretty for his own good or her peace of mind.

No self-respecting governess would be willing to come aboard the notorious Prodigal Son, but Robert didn’t fight his way to the top by letting small obstacles like scruples stop him. If he can’t hire Lydia Burke, he’ll steal her and take her to England with them, certain he can charm her into his bed along the way as an added bonus on the voyage.

It will be a true voyage of discovery for the pirate and the governess, as one learns to navigate the rocky shoals of parenthood while the other tries to keep deadly secrets hidden, and both will find that while it’s a child who initially brings them together, the growing passion between them offers the greatest temptation.

I always look forward to reading about pirates when Darlene Marshall is the author. I always have to link back to my review of her book Sea Change because that book is so awesome and I re-read it still. So go read that book too. LOL

Robert St. Armand’s life is about to change. He has just found out that he has a nine year old daughter. Her mother has died and her governess has hunted him down. Lydia, the governess, loves Mattie but she will not return to England, which is where Robert is headed. Robert tries to get Lydia to stay on as Mattie’s governess but she’s taken a job elsewhere. But Robert is a pirate and he’s not about to let Lydia get away. But even kidnapping her off her ship won’t get Lydia on his side.

Lydia hated having to say goodbye to sweet little Maddie but she absolutely could not return to England. And when the pirate kidnaps her, she refuses to tell him why. But they do end up striking up a bargain and Lydia and Mattie take to the pirate ship like fish to water. LOL And Robert, who’s used to women throwing themselves at him, is beyond tempted by Lydia when she turns him down flat every time.

I liked this tale of the buttoned up governess going head to head with a pirate. He’s used to getting his way but he’s also charming. Like he doesn’t steal from people, he talks them into giving him their cargo. Haha Of course Lydia can see right through that. She’s not cynical really, but she is on her guard and as an independent woman she knows how to take care of herself.

Robert is the third son of a peer and he’s returning to England because he’s inherited a title and an estate. His childhood home was not a happy one and he doesn’t look forward to returning. But he does vow to make it a happy place for Maddie. I like how Robert took to fatherhood. He has some interesting ideas on how to raise a young woman on a ship but Maddie loves it. Lydia too adapts her lessons to life at sea and some of the crew members start learning right beside Maddie. I like the way Darlene Marshall writes about the camaraderie on ships.

There are two parts to this book. There’s life on board, where Lydia and Robert get to know each other and then there’s the second part when they arrive in England. By this point Robert realizes he wants Lydia forever and ever and he won’t let her leave him and Maddie and he sets about wooing her. And slaying dragons from her past that are making her afraid to stay in England. *sigh*

All in all, I thought the Pirate’s Secret Baby was a great read. I would totally stow away on any ship Darlene writes about. LOL 4 out of 5

This book is available from Amber Quill Press. You can buy it here in e-format.

#DFRAT Guest Review: Castaway Dreams by Darlene Marshall

Posted June 28, 2012 by Ames in Reviews | 1 Comment

Ames’ review of Castaway Dreams by Darlene Marshall

After a lifetime in the Royal Navy, surgeon Alexander Murray finds himself castaway with brainless beauty Daphne Farnham and her fluffy little dog. While the dog could be supper, she’s useless.

Daphne can’t understand why the humorless surgeon doesn’t like her—everyone likes her! She’s beautiful, rich, and has excellent fashion sense, a most useful skill when putting together an ensemble.

This unlikely pair (and Pompom) will have to figure out how to survive together, and may discover that each holds attractions not obvious at first—or even second—glance.

After Sea Change, I was really looking forward to reading Darlene’s next seafaring adventure.  And Castaway Dreams did not disappoint!

Daphne Farnham is an empty-headed miss with more concern for the latest fashions than anything else.  At least that’s how everyone sees her.  And Dr. Alexander Murray is no exception.  He is a dour man, older than his years, and he can see nothing useful about Daphne’s existence.  He is a bit harsh, but then again, he can be a harsh man.  These two are both passengers on the Magpie, heading for England.  For Dr. Murray, he’s retiring from being a navy surgeon and for Daphne it’s to get her life back together.  She ran off to Jamaica with a young man but he died, so her wealthy father has fetched her home.  She’s being escorted home by a dragon of a chaperone.  There are questions around Daphne’s reputation – was she married to that young man she ran off with?  Why does she still call herself Miss Farnham?

Things get a little complicated when the chaperone dies and the Captain asks Dr. Murray to watch over Daphne.  This is the last thing Dr. Murray wants as it has him almost constantly in her irritating presence.  But Daphne is the kind of character who despite some obstacles (or prickly personalities) in her path, she remains sunny and optimistic and looks for the good in people.  This makes her very naive but not stupid.  Dr. Murray realizes that everyone looks at Daphne and sees a beautiful woman and they don’t expect much else from her.  This is especially true when the two are shipwrecked and Daphne more than carries her weight on their deserted island and doesn’t expect Dr. Murray to take care of her.  She wants to help him and she wants to learn.

As Dr. Murray and Daphne get to know each other and see beyond the surface, are their feelings brought on by their circumstances or will it fade if rescue comes?

I thoroughly enjoyed Castaway Dreams!  I liked how different the two characters were.  Dr. Murray, who appears older than he is, with his politeness and correctness and stuffiness.  Compared to Daphne’s easy-going manner and eternal optimism.  Their differences are what made them perfect for each other.  Another thing I enjoyed was Daphne’s belief that Dr. Murray is older than he is.  Daphne is a young 23 and Dr. Murray is in his mid-30s.  But his sea-faring life has led to him going grey about the temples.  With his stern demeanor, it’s no wonder Daphne thinks him elderly.  And it grates on his nerves when she makes references to his old age or comparing him to her grandfather.  I also love Daphne’s reaction when she figures out that Dr. Murray is not quite that old.  *g*

Daphne has the potential to come across as a very annoying heroine and fortunately for us, she isn’t.  She’s never been challenged in her life.  And Dr. Murray challenges her in a way that no one ever has.  When they’re rescued of their island, Dr. Murray pretends that he and Daphne are married so their captors won’t try anything with Daphne.  At first I was a bit annoyed with Daphne’s reaction.  I was thinking she cannot possibly be that dumb and then Daphne explains her reluctance about a fake marriage.  That saved her from being TSTL in my opinion.  Another thing I found refreshing about Daphne was her attitude towards her sexuality.  She enjoyed her marital bed with her young man before he died.  And when she discovers Dr. Murray’s true age she becomes very randy.  She even tells him he’s going to have to be the smart one and diffuse anything that may happen between them.  LOL  I loved that.

And for those of you wondering, Dr. Murray has made an appearance in Sea Change.

Throw in a little lapdog and this is one enjoyable voyage I highly recommend!  4 out of 5

Before I wrap things up, I wanted to share a fun excerpt:

Dr. Murray glanced up and met Daphne’s eyes across the table. He held her glance and the cabin became oddly hushed in the moment. It was an interesting face, she thought, broad and wellmade, with a blade of a nose. His forehead was high, the rufous hair neatly swept back and kept short, a style more suited to practicality than fashion. Not a handsome face like Mr. Carr’s, and one could easily overlook it, focusing instead on the surgeon’s gruff demeanor. After all, when one was having dealings with a surgeon, what his face looked like was generally the last consideration, wasn’t it? You looked at his hands, the strength in his arms for bone-setting or bone-sawing.
Daphne broke the glance and looked down at those hands, finely shaped, with long fingers holding his fork and knife in a delicate manner, handling them like instruments, no motion or effort wasted.
Then she remembered that those hands would shortly be on her, helping her out of her clothes, and she felt the warmth flow across her cheekbones. Startled, she looked up at Dr. Murray. He was still watching her face, but now his eyes were darker, more brown than the blend of forest colors she saw when he was in the sunlight. Unaccountably nervous, Daphne licked her lips and his eyes grew darker still at the motion.

This book is available from AmberQuill. You can buy it here in e-format.

You can read more from ~ames~ at Thrifty Reader.

What I Read Last Week

Posted February 21, 2012 by Tracy in Features | 8 Comments

Hi there!
I’m a day late with this but I’m finally putting it together.
Unfortunately my lovely 3 day weekend was spent taking care of a sick child (my youngest again) and heading to the urgent care. Luckily she’s better now and on the road to recovery but I think I might need 3 days off to recover from my 3 days off! lol
Since she wasn’t moving much we played a lot of games and watched a lot of movies while cuddled on the couch together.  (Unfortunately mommy couldn’t be too far away from her baby before baby started whining. :).) This weekend I saw (again): Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan (the live action one), The Prince of Egypt, Willow, Jumanji, Thor and A Series of Unfortunate Events. I think I’m movied out for a while. 🙂
My reading was a bit schizo this week as I had lots of little bits of time to read rather than long periods. Hopefully this week will be back to normal.
I started off with Sea Change by Darlene Marshall which is the book that I read for my TBR Challenge. It was a great historical – ship – with a cross-dressing heroine book. You can read my review here. 4 out of 5
After that it was I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella. The story with this one starts with our heroine, Poppy, looking for her engagement ring after a tea with friends. She then gets her cell phone stolen and because she gave out the number to everyone to contact her about the ring – which is a family heirloom from her fiancé – she’s beside herself. She then finds a cell phone in the trash that still works and since it’s finders keepers she keeps the phone. She’s not really willing to give up the phone even once she discovers that the phone belonged to a personal assistant and the man she was assisting needs it back. A fun and funny story. You can read more in my review here. 4 out of 5
My next read was for The Book Binge and it was a novella called Love Revealed by Sorcha Mowbray. This was the story of a woman who is on the outs with the ton because of the fact that her now dead husband had syphilis. Of course it is thought that she must have it too – which is untrue. She takes care of her baser needs at a place called The Market where she can play out her sexual fantasies – and those she hadn’t ever thought about before. There she meets a man who goes by the name of Sir who wants her as a long term partner. Little do they know that they know each other. The story was definite an erotic historical romance that was light on the romance. It was a good book but just too short. There were lots of things to work out between the couple and I just didn’t think they were fleshed out enough by the end of the story. 3.25 out of 5
After that I picked up Few Are Chosen by Storm Grant. I liked this story so much but I wish there had been more of it! lol The story is about two boys who are fighting demons with one going the traditional demon hunter route with the speech and all and the other going more street gang. You can read my review here. 4 out of 5
The Husband Hunt by Lynsay Sands was my next read. This is book 3 in the Madison Sisters series and the story was about Lisa. Lisa is in love with Robert who she practically grew up with. Robert only sees her as a little sister and Lisa goes back and forth with giving up on him and hunting for a husband then trying to make him jealous. I really wanted her to choose one or the other and stick with the plan. You’ll be able to read more in my review when I post it this week.
Another book that I read for The Book Binge was Not Wicked Enough by Carolyn Jewel. This was the story of a woman who was visiting a friend and falls for her brother. Only she doesn’t exactly fall…more like makes a slow slide into it. lol The book was really great and I’ll definitely let you know when my review posts. 4.5 out of 5
Happy World by Kiernan Kelly and Tory Temple was about a man who works at Happy World (kind of like Disneyland) as a groundskeeper. Kyle loves working at Happy World but would really like to get into the theatrical part of it and become a “character”. For now Kyle is stuck training Rory as a groundskeeper and Rory isn’t one to follow rules to the T. The more time the men spend together the more they attracted they come and eventually start a relationship. But there are people who are out to get one or the other and secrets that are kept and this all might bring the relationship skidding to a halt. The story was very sweet and fun. I really liked both men and the story was great. Thanks for the rec., Tam! 4 out of 5
Another of Tam’s recommendations was Grand Jeté by Diana Copland. This story is about an ER nurse, Jordan, who starts falling for one of his patients, Davis. Davis is a ballet dancer who has been hurt and then deserted by his boyfriend and his dance company. He has nowhere to go so Jordan offers to let him stay at his place since he’ll only really be around for about a day. That day…and some…is enough for the two men to get together and form a bond. But Davis has to go back to the west coast and when Jordan tries to contact him his cell is turned off. Jordan has no way to contact him and eventually resigns himself to the fact that he was a bit used. But was he? This was a great story. I loved Jordan and Davis and though the book is pretty simple it was very sweet and pretty darned hot all at the same time. 4 out of 5
My Book Binge reviews that posted last week:
Happy Reading!

TBR Challenge Review: Sea Change by Darlene Marshall

Posted February 15, 2012 by Tracy in Reviews | 12 Comments

The TBR Challenge theme this month was to choose a book that a friend had recommended but had you hadn’t gotten around to reading yet. I chose this one because Ames had loved it and after reading her review and having her recommend it to me personally I thought it would be a good read…and it was.
American privateer Captain David Fletcher needs a surgeon for his wounded brother. But when he captures a British merchantman in the Caribbean, what he gets is Charley Alcott, an apprentice physician barely old enough to shave. Needs take priority over skill, and Captain Fletcher whisks the prisoner aboard his ship with orders to do his best or he’ll be walking the plank.

Charley Alcott’s medical skills are being put to the test in a life-or-death situation–Charley’s life as well as the patient’s. Even if Charley can save the captain’s brother, there will still be hell to pay, and maybe a plank to walk, when Captain Fletcher learns Charley is really Charlotte Alcott.

A war is raging on the world’s oceans, and two enemies will fight their own battles and their attraction to each other as they undergo a sea change neither of them is expecting, but cannot deny…
Charley Alcott aka Charlotte was practically raised as boy. Her mother had died and since her physician father didn’t know what to do with her he dressed her as a boy and took her with him on his patient rounds. Charley wanted nothing more than to be a doctor and continue the good work her father started before he died. But Charley is a woman and heaven forbid a woman become a doctor – they’re just not intelligent enough! At least that’s was the thinking way back when. After her father dies Charley has no family that she can contact and no where to go. She decides that she should go to Jamaica where her godfather (who is also a physician) lives and hope that he can take her in. She acts like a young man and contacts a ship captain telling him that she’ll act as his physician on the ship while they sail in exchange for passage. Since the captain’s wife is pregnant the man agrees and they set sail.
While at sea their ship is stopped and a band of pirates confiscates their medical supplies…and Charley. But Charley soon learns that they are not pirates but American Privateers and that’s not good as their countries are at war! Charley thinks of herself as a physician though and she helps the captains brother and ends up healing a great many of the crew as well – with them all thinking that she is a he.
The captain, David Fletcher, begins a friendship with Charley and he loves playing chess with the boy and talking over books and politics. He soon finds though that he’s attracted to Charley and that’s just not right according to his thinking! He is about to give in to his attraction when he finds out that Charley’s a woman! He’s pissed yet overjoyed as many men would be and they soon become lovers. But they both know that their relationship can go no further. They are from warring worlds and nowhere Charley goes can she practice her medicine. When tragedy strikes the ship though their hopes are forever taken from them.
This book looked interesting but after Ames reviewed it I have to say that I was even more convinced I should read the story. I’m so glad I did. I really enjoyed Marshall’s writing and look forward to reading more of her work.
The friendship and romance between David and Charley was fantastic. I loved seeing their friendship flourish throughout the book and not end once David discovered her secret. It happens so often in a book that once a couple gets to know each other and then moves on to the more intimate portion of their relationship that the story is then all about the bed play. While there was certainly plenty of that the connection between the couple’s minds didn’t diminish and I loved that.
Both David and Charley were incredibly strong personalities and characters and the author let them have their heads so to speak. They weren’t afraid to argue with each other or tell the other exactly what was on their mind. the fact that they could do that and not have a ton of angst really made my day. I love when an author can show a couple arguing and not have one stomp off! lol Sounds so simple but it happens so infrequently!
My only niggle with the book was the last chapter or so. I thought that while we got to see Charley in a more womanly role – that she really didn’t care for btw – it seemed a little too drawn out to me. While I was happy with the HEA, the ending portion really didn’t do all that much for me and I was more than a bit disappointed. I hate to say that because the rest of the book was so very good but…there it is.
Despite the ending I really loved the book and highly recommend it. (I LOVE the cover of the book. That model is, in a word, yummy.)
Rating: 4 out of 5

Guest Review: Sea Change by Darlene Marshall

Posted August 16, 2011 by Ames in Reviews | 6 Comments

Ames’ review of Sea Change by Darlene Marshall.

American privateer Captain David Fletcher needs a surgeon for his wounded brother. But when he captures a British merchantman in the Caribbean, what he gets is Charley Alcott, an apprentice physician barely old enough to shave. Needs take priority over skill, and Captain Fletcher whisks the prisoner aboard his ship with orders to do his best or he’ll be walking the plank.

Charley Alcott’s medical skills are being put to the test in a life-or-death situation–Charley’s life as well as the patient’s. Even if Charley can save the captain’s brother, there will still be hell to pay, and maybe a plank to walk, when Captain Fletcher learns Charley is really Charlotte Alcott.

A war is raging on the world’s oceans, and two enemies will fight their own battles and their attraction to each other as they undergo a sea change neither of them is expecting, but cannot deny…

I’ve been wanting to read a Darlene Marshall book for a while now so I jumped at the chance to read and review Sea Change, her latest Amber Quill release. Now I am definitely going to read her backlist.

Sea Change features I few things I absolutely love in my romance. A kick-ass heroine who cross dresses and is working in a man’s profession (doctor in the early 1800s). It also has a great hero who is attracted to said cross-dressing woman but freaks out a bit because he thinks he’s attracted to a man. Oh boy do the sparks fly once the truth is revealed!

Charley (aka Charlotte) Alcott is disguised as a man and earning her passage on a ship to Jamaica from England, acting as the ship’s doctor. Her father, whom she apprenticed with, has died recently and so she’s going to stay with her godfather, also a doctor. She’s hoping she can continue apprenticing with him. Meanwhile, she disguises herself as a man. Her plan is totally screwed up when their ship is overtaken by American privateers and she’s forced onto their vessel. Charley’s ship was attacked because Captain David Fletcher’s younger brother was injured and Captain David needs a surgeon to save him. David isn’t exactly impressed with the young doctor he’s found, but he’s better than nothing. And once the pressing matter of his younger brother’s health is behind them, Charley and David form a loose friendship. I say loose because Charley still wants to go to Jamaica and David is determined to keep the doctor on his boat – his men like it, it has improved morale and Charley is someone that David can really talk to.

But Charley realizes that her feelings are growing for the sexy captain and this makes her more determined than ever to get away from him. David too is thrown for a loop when he realizes that Charley is growing feelings for him and thinking he’s a man, it freaks him out, because he’s noticing things and reacting to the young man. All of that changes one day when Charley is knocked overboard and David jumps into the ocean to save her. David can’t help but notice the shape of the body under the wet clothes. And David is furious:

David liked women. Not on his ship, of course, but when he was on land he enjoyed being in their company. He liked them clothed in their fripperies and unclothed in all their glory, curved and rounded and sweet smelling. He liked the contrast of their

softness to his hardness, their gentle ways and delicate natures to his life among rough men. And the ones who weren’t so delicate but gave as good as they got in a game of slap and tickle, he liked them, too.

What he did not like was the thought of a female who talked like a man, and dressed like a man, and thought like a man, and spent her day examining the naked bodies of men when it was no proper place for a lady to be!

The scene, where David reveals Charley’s true identity was so thrilling! He’s glad he hasn’t been attracted to a man but he’s horrified that she’s also a woman. She has been treating the men and seeing them naked and even treated him! It’s unacceptable and he’s determined to get her off his ship as quickly as possible. (There’s an awesome scene when he announces his intentions to the crew.)

I won’t say any more but that’s only half the story. It’s not so easy for David to let Charley go. And I LOVED that these two had time to get to know each other before their feelings came into play. It created some delicious tension, both pre and post gender reveal. I liked all the characters. Charley is a practical sort of woman and David is a great captain and sigh-worthy hero. The writing was engaging and the dialog never dragged. Who thought doctor-speak could be sexy?

“Do you know how an inoculation works, Captain?”

Her voice was low, and husky, and despite her prosaic question, made him even harder, if that were possible.

“An inoculation gives you a taste of a disease. Just enough to strengthen you against it.”

“Am I a disease then, Doctor?”

“If I kiss you, I may be inoculated against you, and I can sleep easy again.”

Hot stuff!!

I got sucked into Charley’s story right from the get go and about halfway through, I knew I was reading a book I’d be listing as a top read for 2011. And I was right. Sea Change is going to be in my top 5 reads for this year. 5 out of 5.

This book is available from Amber Quill Press. You can buy it here in e-format.